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Discussion Starter #1
So I plucked my first duck, and it was a horrible experience but not as bad as I was afraid. :D The main problem was the mass incredible quantities of pin feathers. They looked like they were done moulting from the outside crud nab it! So here's my question: I have four more to do, how long should I wait to make the pin feather problem not so bad? They are pretty long and vigerous pin feathers for the most part, would a week be long enough? (I only have time to butcher weekends anyway.)

My other question has to do with fat in the body cavity - like around the guts. There was quite a lot in this duck (Muscovy)! Do you think maybe I'm over feeding or something? I don't want to waste feed! They do get scratch grain soaked in whey about once a week instead of their normal food, maybe that is what's causing it? Because there is a lot of corn in that stuff, but it is cheap and uses up my gallons and gallons of whey in a useful fashion. That being said, I also did a Khaki Campbell today, and he did not have nearly as much. So maybe it is a Muscovy thing?

Thanks a bunch! Two down and four to go, and then I'm DONE for this year! Now if you will excuse me I'm going to go see if I can find a plucker I can afford. XD
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Also, has anybody used these pluckers or similar? It looks like it doesn't have enough fingers on it to me, but I don't know what I'm talking about and the price is right, assuming it works.
 

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There are apparently specific weeks of age in which Muscoveys are easier to pluck.
Whatever.

What we do is pluck reasonably well during butcher, let the meat soak and then sit, then rinse at the sink and prepare to freeze.

That is when we do the 'fine plucking'.
We use tweezers. Makes life easier.
Doing it at the sink inside the house makes it easier too.
 

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I've never butchered a duck but I do I have a power plucker and it'll get a chicken naked in no time.


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Discussion Starter #5
What we do is pluck reasonably well during butcher, let the meat soak and then sit, then rinse at the sink and prepare to freeze.
Could you define "soak and then sit"? I'm a noob and I'm not sure what you're talking about. :hobbyhors
 

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Check out the youtube clips and there is DYI pluckers like what you are looking at for $15-20 total parts cost and clips of them in action.

Wade
 

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Plucking by machine or hand there is always some pin feathers. Wax dip and peel smooth as a baby's bum. Age is a big factor. also. If you don't want to wax then torch and burn them off rinse with cool water. If you have several to do or often then wax is a wise investment especially if you like duck skin and fat.
 

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When you butcher fresh poultry you need to let the meat rest.
You need to let rigor mortis pass.

You hear of grandma ripping the head off a chicken, throwing it in the pot for Sunday dinner. You can do it IF you can have it dead, gutted, plucked and in the pot in about 10 minutes at the very, very most.
Grandma was killing just one skinny barnyard bird. Took no time to pluck it etc..

If you are new, have a decent sized bird or are doing multiple birds, you will need to let the meat rest.

We do an overnight soak in salt water and ice bottles, then into big bags and into the outside fridge for 2 more days before we bring them in, rinse them well, take care of any extra plucking or cleaning needs and then bag for the freezer.

If you don't let the meat come out of rigor before freezing or cooking, it will be like trying to chew through a Firestone.
 
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I always peel the skin off of my bought chicken carcasses - how come skinning them isn't a popular way to clean them?

(I had chickens, but never ate them - they were just layers.)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
When you butcher fresh poultry you need to let the meat rest.
You need to let rigor mortis pass.

You hear of grandma ripping the head off a chicken, throwing it in the pot for Sunday dinner. You can do it IF you can have it dead, gutted, plucked and in the pot in about 10 minutes at the very, very most.
Grandma was killing just one skinny barnyard bird. Took no time to pluck it etc..

If you are new, have a decent sized bird or are doing multiple birds, you will need to let the meat rest.

We do an overnight soak in salt water and ice bottles, then into big bags and into the outside fridge for 2 more days before we bring them in, rinse them well, take care of any extra plucking or cleaning needs and then bag for the freezer.

If you don't let the meat come out of rigor before freezing or cooking, it will be like trying to chew through a Firestone.
Ah ok... I knew about letting them rest for a couple of days, but the soaking bit threw me, I don't think I've heard of that before. I might have to try that!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I always peel the skin off of my bought chicken carcasses - how come skinning them isn't a popular way to clean them?

(I had chickens, but never ate them - they were just layers.)
I do skin most of the time, but these are meant to be special occasion roasting birds - so I need the skin on.

Did a couple more today... it took LONGER to do than yesterday! We'll do the last two next week, hopefully I'll be able to put together a home brew plucker by then. :hobbyhors
 

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What age were they? I have a Peking I was going to butcher at ten weeks when I discovered he was a he but then just never did for this exact reason.

Now he's about five months old and not even sure he'd be very good anymore. I have a buff duck and another mixed duck both female. Trying to decide if I want to try for ducklings in the spring or if the drake needs to go to freezer camp.

Reading your issues helps me lean towards duckling in spring.
 

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I raise quite a few meat ducks. The cleanest I do we're
10 weeks old. Then pin feathers become messy. I'm doing
some more butchering this week for older birds now about
16 weeks . I suspect they'll have pin feathers.

Best thing to do is paraffin wax dipping and peeling,
This helps pulling out pin feathers. Other then that, try
keeping your scalding temperature higher than for chickens .
It may not make a difference for pin feathers , but save time
plucking down and feathers . Add some washing soda to the
scald water . Helps break down natural waterfowl oil in the
feathers.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
What age were they? I have a Peking I was going to butcher at ten weeks when I discovered he was a he but then just never did for this exact reason.

Now he's about five months old and not even sure he'd be very good anymore. I have a buff duck and another mixed duck both female. Trying to decide if I want to try for ducklings in the spring or if the drake needs to go to freezer camp.

Reading your issues helps me lean towards duckling in spring.
They were thirteen weeks I think? I'd have to count on the calendar but I'm pretty sure. These ones had quite large well developed pin feathers, that came out pretty easily, actually. I'm hopeful that by Saturday (next chance we have to do any butchering) they'll be grown in a bit better. The worst time we're having is actually their back and wing feathers - those stupid things just don't want to come out! Also these are Muscovies - may or may not be different from a Pekin. I've done Khaki Campbells too, but we skin those. Not enough meat to be worth roasting, and they're better as stew birds, I think, with the skin off.
 

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We did 5 welsh harlequins and it was TERRIBLE. We had to hand pluck a whole bunch because our super plucker just didn't pluck them like it does the turkeys an chickens. Just get some tweezers and prepare for a time investment.
 

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If your duck has new feathers coming in, it will be awful to pluck. You can tell by feeling the chest feathers for the new blood feathers. If they are growing feathers, I found it was better to skin them, I couldn't pluck a nice skin in any case. I don't have muscovies, so don't know the best ages, but for regular domestic ducks it seems to be at 8 weeks - just for a couple of days between juvenile plumage and molting for the first adult feathers - then 12 weeks on.

Five or six months is a great time for the Pekin to still be young enough to be great eating, but ducklings are darn cute!

As for plucking, I did do a batch with a commercial processor and her tub type plucker worked quite well for getting most of the feathers off fast. There was still a lot of hand work, but it saved me about half the time. I haven't tried waxing and I quit growing up ducks for butcher, I find it just too hard to kill them when I don't really need them for eating. I just raise egg layers and sell the extras.

To get the feathers loose, I used water at 170 degrees for close to a minute to scald. I added a squirt of dish soap. Also used the garden hose on the ducks before scalding to force water up under the feathers and clean them a bit. That all helped a lot. To be sure of the time to scald, pull a duck out and see if the wing feathers are loose, if they are, its time to pluck.

My daughter and I did them together - we'd kill two, pluck them and put them on ice, then do two more. We could do six in a day (including the butchering too) and it was a bit of work for sure.

We are not professionals in any way though, that's a bit of experience on our own. I am sure others can be a lot faster and more efficient.
 

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Check out the youtube clips and there is DYI pluckers like what you are looking at for $15-20 total parts cost and clips of them in action.

Wade
I built one like that in a half hour for about $4. I did have a lot of what I needed on hand (yes, I am a hoarder! :gaptooth: )
 

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Mossy nut, love your plucker.
What is the green part?
What powers the plucker, a drill?
What is the part you are holding on to?
Inquiring minds would love to know :D
 

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The green part just holds the fingers and a drill powers it.


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